3M interns stepping up to help lives affected by COVID-19
Jul 8, 2020

While some 3M internships were able to move to a virtual format this summer, there were others that required hands-on experience, such as the Optimized Operations (O2) experience – a manufacturing and supply chain-focused program for engineering, supply chain, data analytics, environmental, and health and safety college students. “Our program typically starts with our interns at 3M’s headquarters for one week of training before venturing out to one of our plants or distribution centers, but due to the pandemic, we had to adjust the program quickly,” said Colleen Tahnk, strategy development and O2 manager.

As one of 3M’s O2 internship managers for the U.S. and Canada, Christine Keary wanted to do anything she could to make sure that 3M’s O2 internship program still happened. “There was a brief moment that we considered not having the internship program this summer, but when we thought about the talent that we had recruited, we knew we had to find a way.” The team wanted to make sure the interns knew that 3M cared about their safety and career. That focus helped them quickly adapt to the evolving situation. “I think it resulted in a lot of gratitude and a higher level of commitment from our interns because many of their fellow students’ internships were cancelled,” said Christine.

The team identified key 3M facilities that are manufacturing and distributing products for those fighting the pandemic on the frontlines and assigned their O2 interns to a location that would best fit their degree. “We made a conscious effort to find a location where they could be alongside a few other fellow interns and helped them find housing,” shared Colleen. “Safety for each intern is a priority for us. After safety comes learning.”

“These interns will be direct contributors to 3M’s efforts, which is an amazing opportunity to make an impact on people’s lives during these uncertain times,” Christine shared.

Meet three of this summer’s 20 O2 interns and learn more about the innovative people behind the products.

Brian Cain, supply chain analyst intern, hails from Medfield, Massachusetts and is currently studying Supply Chain, Information and Analytics at Purdue University.

During his internship at the 3M plant in Valley, Nebraska, Brian will be working alongside 3Mers who are playing a large role in 3M’s increased production of N95 respirators. “I'm really looking forward to the opportunity 3M has given me to be able to travel and work in a location that I have never been exposed to before,” said Brian. “It’s going to be really awesome to be able to collectively work on projects with other interns and make a difference at 3M together.”

“I’m hoping to use data analysis skills to help improve the processes of the 3M Valley Plant and ease the burden of respirator production brought on by the Covid-19 crisis," he says.

Allysa Dunnigan, engineering intern, calls Delano, Minnesota home when she’s not studying Chemical Engineering at the University of Notre Dame. “I am most excited to experience engineering in a first-hand and real-world environment,” said Allysa. “You can only gain so much from being in a classroom, and the O2 program gives me the opportunity to learn so much about the industry and possible future careers that being in the classroom can’t provide.”

During her internship, Allyssa will be focusing on the production of PPE, specifically powered air-purifying respirators. “I will be able to say that I truly made a positive difference during the pandemic,” Allysa shared. “Through my last few years of engineering classes, I've learned different problem solving strategies that I hope I can apply in my projects with 3M. I would like to bring my knowledge of engineering problem-solving along with leadership experience to 3M this summer,” she explained.

Mike Twilleager, value stream manager and Allysa’s manager said, “I’ve always enjoyed working with interns and the new and fresh perspective they bring. I think we have some unique projects that will align well with Allysa’s chemical engineering background to deliver some real, tangible results to the plant at the end of her eight weeks with us.”

From Chinandega, Nicaragua, Engineering Intern Juan Ernesto Venerio Trejo will be taking a break from his study of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of California in Los Angeles, and will be interning at 3M’s plant in Aberdeen, South Dakota. “What interested me the most about 3M and the O2 program was the organization and the interest of the people and the program. From my point of view, the O2 program values their interns, and they want us to do our best and succeed,” said Juan.

Rose Johnson, value stream manager and Juan’s manager for the summer, is very excited for him to join the team and hopes he walks away with some great experience under his belt. ““I truly believe different minds inspire. I’m excited to see Juan’s zeal and open-mindedness address key areas of opportunity in Aberdeen while experiencing a glimpse of life as an engineer working in a manufacturing facility.”


What is Juan most excited for this summer? “As an engineer, facing new problems and challenges is always fun, and I cannot wait to be able to do that at work. I feel very happy and thrilled to start.” 


Learn more about the O2 program and all internships at 3M.com/careers.

Other Topics

Contact Media Relations

Contact Media Email

These contacts are intended only for the media. If you are not a member of the media, please call 1-888-3M HELPS (1-888-364-3577).

We will get back to you within one business day.

Email Alerts

Subscribe to receive automatic updates via email for 3M news & stories.